Healthy Cook

Veggie Mains

by Kate Sherwood, December 2011

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Vegetarians among your dinner guests? Here are three veggie main dishes that have their protein built in. Just don't tell the carnivores...unless you're looking for some leftover chicken for your lunch tomorrow.

Roasted Butternut Squash & Lentils

Total time: 30 minutes.

French lentils
1 cup
butternut squash, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 lb.
extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 Tbs.
country Dijon mustard
2 Tbs.
red wine vinegar
1 Tbs.
minced red onion
2 Tbs.
1 tsp.
½ tsp.
Freshly ground black pepper
chopped walnuts
¼ cup

Great warm or cold. To keep the flavor intense, don't add the dressing until you're ready to serve the dish.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a large pot, bring the lentils and enough water to cover by 2" to a boil. Simmer until just tender, 18-20 minutes. Drain and return to the pot. Cover and keep warm.

Meanwhile, toss the butternut squash in 1 Tbs. of the oil. Roast on a rimmed baking sheet until tender, about 15 minutes. Whisk together the mustard, vinegar, onion, honey, and remaining 3 Tbs. of oil.

Gently toss with the lentils and squash. Season with up to ½ tsp. of salt and plenty of pepper. Sprinkle with the walnuts.

Serves 4.

PER SERVING (1½ cups)

  • Calories: 410
  • Total Fat: 19 g
  • Sat Fat: 2.5 g
  • Protein: 15 g
  • Carbohydrates: 47 g
  • Fiber: 17 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Sodium: 430 mg

Spinach Pearl Barley Risotto

Total time: 40 minutes.

cloves garlic, minced
extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbs.
pearl barley
1 cup
fat-free milk
3 cups
baby spinach
5 oz.
diced sun-dried tomatoes
¼ cup
dry vermouth or dry white wine
½ cup
scallions, sliced
grated Parmesan cheese, divided
½ cup

Want more spinach? Stir it in. Don’t like garlic? Use onion instead. Tired of Parmesan? Try Gorgonzola or pecorino.

In a large, deep skillet, sauté the garlic in the oil until lightly golden, 1 minute. Stir in the barley. Add the milk and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring often, until the milk is absorbed and the barley is just starting to stick to the skillet, about 20 minutes.

Stir in 1 cup of water and continue cooking until the barley is tender, 5-10 minutes. Add more water, ½ cup at a time as needed, to keep the risotto moist.

Stir in the spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, vermouth, scallions, and ¼ cup of the Parmesan. Serve the remaining ¼ cup of Parmesan on the side to sprinkle on at the table.

Serves 4.

PER SERVING (1½ cups)

  • Calories: 440
  • Total Fat: 12 g
  • Sat Fat: 3 g
  • Protein: 17 g
  • Carbohydrates: 59 g
  • Fiber: 11 g
  • Cholesterol: 15 mg
  • Sodium: 400 mg

Sicilian Chickpeas

Total Time: 20 minutes

Italian eggplants (about ¾ lb.)
extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tbs.
tomato paste
3 Tbs.
cloves garlic, chopped
red pepper flakes, more to taste
¼ tsp.
½ cup
15 oz. cans no-salt-added chickpeas
kosher salt
½ tsp.
chopped fresh mint
3 Tbs.

Italian (baby) eggplants have a thinish skin and their flesh is never bitter. You can also use Japanese eggplants...or replace the 2 eggplants with one large onion. Just stay away from ordinary eggplants.

Dice the eggplant into ½-inch pieces. Sauté in a large non-stick skillet in the oil until golden brown, 5-7 minutes.

Stir in the tomato paste, garlic, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring often, for 2 more minutes. Stir in the water and chickpeas and heat through.

Season with up to ½ tsp. of salt. Remove from the heat and stir in the mint.

Serves 4.

PER SERVING (1½ cups)

  • Calories: 340
  • Total Fat: 12 g
  • Sat Fat: 1.5 g
  • Protein: 13 g
  • Carbohydrates: 46 g
  • Fiber: 12 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Sodium: 300 mg


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